4 Things We Learned From The FBI’s Mostly Redacted Steele Documents
In a Friday afternoon news dump, the Federal Bureau of Investigation released 71 pages of documents related to the agency’s use of Christopher Steele as a confidential human source (CHS). Judicial Watch fought for more than a year to force the government to comply with its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for documents related to the work the former British spy—and author of the salacious and unverified Steele dossier—did for the FBI since January 1, 2016.
It is unlikely that Friday’s release will end the matter, however, given the FBI’s greedy use of FOIA exemptions left nearly all the significant details redacted. But while Judicial Watch (and Congress!) continue to battle for more information, several points merit mention based on the sparse details revealed.
1. Was Christopher Steele an FBI Spy Against Trump?
The most interesting revelation appeared on the final page of the release, which consisted of a “CHS admonishment” dated February 2, 2016. “Admonishment,” though, does not mean reprimand, as a lay person might think. Rather, under the Attorney General Guidelines (AGG) governing the use of confidential human sources, the FBI must, “at the opening and thereafter at least annually or more often if circumstances warrant, . . .advise the CHS of all applicable instructions detailed in the manual.” The FBI calls these instructions admonishments.
The question raised, then, is whether the July 2, 2016, admonishment was “warranted” by “circumstances” related to the FBI’s decision to use Steele as a CHS in its investigation of the Trump campaign, or merely constituted the annual admonishment required under the AGG CHS guidelines.
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